HJZ Productions, Game Creek, CP Deliver for West Point Graduation Production

With sports on hiatus, production providers branch out with non-sports projects

The pandemic has cut back greatly on the number of sports productions taking place, and that is one of the reasons production companies and facility providers are coming together to work on a range of shows. In recent weeks, HJZ Productions was tapped to produce coverage of the 2020 West Point Graduation ceremony, giving family members a chance to watch their sons and daughters graduate via the DOD and West Point streaming platform.

HJZ Productions held a socially distanced production meeting prior to the 2020 West Point Graduation.

“Everyone was grateful for the work, and it was an awesome job,” says HJZ Productions owner Howie Zales. “It was the first show any of us had worked on since March, and it was a big deal because we could provide something great for the cadets and their parents who were not able to attend.”

Zales says the production was at another level given the inability of the parents to attend, with CP Communications on hand to provide RF support and Game Creek Video’s Bravo serving as home for the show, which was produced with 10 Sony cameras. Besides Director Patrick McManus and Technical Manager Lee Kalinsky, there were two audio techs, an EVS operator, two video shaders, four utilities, the producer, and assistant director.

“Normally, they would do it in the football stadium with a videoboard,” notes Zales, “but, this year, it was on a huge parade field that you can access only if you were a cadet or worked there. It was special to get to see the area.”

Zales Protect offers PPE for TV productions.

Following safety protocols, the only people who could enter Bravo were the staffers working there. Also, if you were working in the main truck, you couldn’t go into the EVS area or other trucks.

“Game Creek had a pretty great protocol for contact tracing in the truck: you scan a QR code on the door of the truck so that they know the name, telephone number, and address of everyone who is in the truck at a given time,” Zales explains. “And, prior to the event, all the cameras were wiped down, and then it was also all wiped down during the strike.

He adds that, prior to the show, he was wracking his brain on how he was going to keep his crew safe. Providing masks and hand sanitizer for everyone led to a new business venture, HJZ Protect, to provide PPE for productions.

“We did a Zoom call a few days prior to the event to let everyone know they should not carpool and bring their own food,” says Zales. “There wasn’t a lot going on in the town of Highland Falls, NY, so we had to provide wrapped snacks and drinks for everyone.”